10 Self-Care Tips For the Holidays

By Haley Martin, Portland Oregon

Season's greetings, yogis! The holidays are upon us and along with them come growing to-do lists, booked calendars and mounting stress. While the end of the year marks a time of reflection, connection, and celebration, it's often accompanied by added pressure that can take a toll on our own well-being. Read on for 10 easy strategies to stay on top of your self-care game this season so you can make the most of the holidays.

1 Set intentions & plan ahead

Now is the perfect time to ask yourself what you want this holiday season to look like. Before the chaos sets in, take some time to tune into yourself and journal about what you want to manifest or minimize over the next few months.

Some thought starters:

  • What does this season mean to you? How do you want to express gratitude to your loved ones?

  • What typically causes you the most stress around the holidays and how can you find workarounds?

  • What boundaries do you want to set to ensure you don’t get burnt out?

  • How can you plan ahead? Consider setting dates for gatherings, booking travel arrangements, brainstorming gift ideas or ordering ahead.

2 Simplify gift-giving

  • In my opinion, malls are crowded breeding grounds for stress, bad lighting and endless things we don’t need. So try to avoid them!

  • Gift giving doesn’t have to be stress-inducing and expensive. Is there something unique you can make for your loved ones- something you will also enjoy making? An experience you can share together?

  • If you do have to go to the store, start the experience off on a positive note. Before heading into the frenzy, take a few minutes to meditate, do some deep breathing, and set your mind in a calm place. Schedule a break to meet a friend for lunch or pick up your favorite tea while you’re out. We don’t always get to determine our surroundings but we can decide ahead of time how we want to respond to them.

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3 Go to yoga or workout class

  • Never underestimate the power of moving your body. Whether it’s going to the gym or taking a yoga class, sometimes the best form of self-care isn’t an extravagant massage or expensive treat, but simply making time to exercise. Yoga can be incredibly rejuvenating during stressful times. For me, an hour on the mat helps me work out all the kinks and leaves me feeling centered, clear-headed and ready to take on the day. Whatever this looks like for you, find a way to get out of your head and into your body.

4 Spend time outdoors

  • With colder weather and shorter days setting in, it’s easy to feel cooped up during the winter. Don’t forget to go outside! Invest in a good jacket and find an excuse to do something outside that you enjoy. Last winder, I signed up for ski lessons and noticed a significant improvement from previous winters- I had an activity to look forward to and improve upon, and was spending way more time enjoying the outdoors. When it’s grey and rainy here, there’s a good chance it’s a wintery wonderland on the mountain. If winter sports aren’t your thing, set an intention to walk outside for 20 minutes a day. It’s amazing what a little fresh air and vitamin D can do for our spirits.

5 Be of service

  • With the holidays comes pressure to do all the things, see all the people and be cheerful and energetic all the time. During these stressful times, I find it incredibly helpful to get out of my own little world and gain some perspective from the people around me. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or down, consider volunteering or finding a way to help somebody else. Even if it's taking an hour or two for a random act of kindness, helping others can have profound effects on our happiness, sense of purpose, and remind us of how much we have to be thankful for.

6 Allow yourself to say no

  • Self-care rule #1. Don’t find yourself in the “busy trap.” If you sense yourself wearing thin, remember that sometimes saying no is just as honorable as saying yes. You are the only one who has control over your boundaries, so try to view every invitation as an opportunity to check in with yourself. How is your energy level? Does this invitation bring you genuine joy or a sense of obligation? Of course there will be times we do things more out of necessity than desire, but in general, “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no."

7 Listen to your body

  • This is an important practice all year round, but it’s often easier said than done. Listening to your body is a skill that takes practice and can look different for each person. Are you feeling off from over-indulging? Sluggish because you skipped your workout? Need a night to yourself instead of going to that dinner party? Similar to a well-tuned car, your body is a sophisticated machine that will alert you when something needs attention as long as you're looking for the warning lights. Trust yourself, respect your intuition, and don’t be afraid to adjust course to give your body what it needs.

8 Practice the 80/20 rule

  • The Pareto Principle states that 80% of results will come from 20% of the action. While this might sound like more of a mantra for the workplace, it’s a valuable reminder for our personal lives as well.

  • Give up the thought that you can do everything perfectly. You are a human with limited attention, time, energy, and resources. Instead, ask yourself what that 20% of effort is that will result in the most happiness this season? You might not have time to put Christmas lights up, but you can prioritize hosting a Friendsgiving dinner and that will likely result in far more happiness. Do what you can and forgive yourself for what you can’t.

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9 Prioritize presence and connection

  • Above all, remember that these next few months should bring happiness, gratitude, and an opportunity to spend time with our loved ones. Anything that detracts from that probably isn’t worthwhile. No matter what comes up, practice being present with those around you, and finding joy in each present moment. Happy Holidays!

10 Find balance

  • Yoga teaches us the importance of finding balance. This is even more true with the added demands of the holidays. What does this mean for you? How can you counter-balance spending with saving? Indulging with nourishing? Celebrating with rest? Travel with routine? We hold the power to create balance in our lives, but it requires mindfulness and discipline.

Houseplants 101: The Green Revolution

By Caryl Manning, Freelance Writer, Portland, OR

Houseplants are more popular than ever! While the world around us is seemingly becoming more and more urbanized, inside our homes there is a green revolution underway.

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Not only do houseplants have the ability to transform the look and feel of a space, they also have some pretty amazing health benefits.

Studies have shown that plants have an incredibly positive effect on our wellbeing. Just a touch of greenery can reduce stress in the office and offer some great therapeutic benefits in the home.

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In fact, adding just one plant to your indoor environment can:

  • Reduce carbon dioxide levels.      
  • Reduce airborne toxins and dust particles.
  • Regulate temperature.
  • Lower cortisol/stress levels.
  • Calm the mind by acting as a natural relaxant.

A life lived with plants will reconnect you with nature. They are your very own indoor companions that you can nurture, and watch grow and thrive. So, don’t be too surprised if you start developing an emotional attachment to your plants - it happens to the best of us.

Worried that you’ve been cursed with a black thumb, or concerned it all sounds just a bit too hard? – Don’t be! Here are some basic tips and tricks for making sure your leafy little buddies live long and happy lives.

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Tips and Tricks

All plants really need to survive (and thrive) is water, sunlight and a little love. While it really is that simple, a little too much or too little of these things can make your plant very sad so it’s important to always do a little research to get to know each individual plant’s likes and dislikes.

Light. Always make sure you choose a plant with the right light requirements for the space you have. If you ignore this then you and your new friend will definitely start things off on the wrong foot. For example, you can’t buy a bright indirect sunlight loving plant like a cactus, and stick it in a dark corner, and expect it to be happy. You will save yourself a lot of disappointment and money if you stick to this rule.

Water. All plants have different water and humidity requirements, so make sure you do a little research and find out how much your friend likes to drink. As a general rule of thumb with most houseplants (besides cacti and succulents), you can stick your thumb about an inch down into the soil and if it feels dry then you can give it a little water. For an even easier hack invest in a moisture meter. It’s basically a thermometer that reads moisture levels and is a great little tool to have because it takes all the guess work out of watering.

Cacti & succulents. These guys are hardy little plants with lots of personality. Given the right conditions they can make great houseplants but have some slightly different requirements to most of the others. They love a well-draining soil so always use cacti/succulent potting mix and make sure your planter has drainage holes to prevent root rot. They need a quick drink with a spray bottle about once a week in summer and a little less in winter. The easiest way to kill these guys is by over-watering so always err on the side of less water if you’re unsure. 

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Low Maintenance Friends

Maybe you’re a new plant parent or you’re always looking to expand the family. Either way here are some fairly low maintenance plants which will make great new additions to your home.

  • Philodendron
  • Fiddle leaf fig
  • Rubber plant
  • Monstera
  • Snake plant
  • Cacti and succulents
  • Spider plant
  • Peace lily
  • Chinese evergreen

Consider this a warning – plant addiction is a real thing people and it won’t be long before you’re waking up in your very own urban jungle. Just remember, if you take good care of your houseplants then they will take care of you. 

Plastic Free Living with Melissa King

Hey #NOWfam!

Melissa here, sliding into your inbox and the NOW blog with some thoughts on an issue I am super passionate about - PLASTIC - or rather LESS PLASTIC!

Let’s get real about it - like REAL real.  Have you given any thought to our dependence on this fossil fuel using, hormone disrupting, ocean pollutant?  Landfills are overflowing, beaches are crowding, and little animal bellies are filling up with it.

It’s time to think outside the plastic packaging.

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Like most mindful Portlanders, I’m sure you bring your reusable bag to the market, but do you bring produce bags, mason jars, and other containers for deli counters and hot food bars?  What about grabbing your reusable water bottle and coffee mug before you run out the door?

Taking our mindfulness practice off the mat and into our daily routines can help create new habits that involve less plastic.  Here are just a few things we can do to minimize our footprint on this beautiful earth. 

Skip the Straw. When ordering all the things - cold brew, smoothies, juice, cocktails, water (!?) Rumor has it they give you wrinkles anyway and no one wants that. Sea turtles are getting them stuck in their nose and whales are eating them along with their big mouthfuls of krill. So next time you are out and order a drink, add “no straw.”  Feel good about the minimal impact you’re making as you sip that delicious beverage!

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Go Topless. If you forget to grab your reusable coffee tumbler when you leave home in the morning and you can’t quite make it through your day without a little caffeine. First off, I feel you, and secondly, take that coffee from your beautiful barista topless!  Ask for no lid next time and avoid placing them in the landfill where they will never break down.

Shop Bulk. Plan ahead when grocery shopping.  Make a list prior to going and figure what you can purchase from the Bulk Section. I buy all of my pantry essentials there, from quinoa to sugar to masa to nut butter. Also snacks!  Most bulk sections have yummy treats ready for devouring without the plastic packaging like other aisles. Shopping in bulk sections has helped me discover new foods and challenged my creativity in the kitchen.

Making little changes, one at a time will slowly make a difference. A difference on your body. A difference in your community. A difference on the planet we leave for further generations.

I am just beginning to document my plastic free transition. Please follow along and share how you’re doing it too!

www.mkingyoga.com

IG: @mking_yoga  

Here’s to us saving the world, one plastic container at a time!

Namaste,

Melissa King

Want to learn more about going plastic free?! Melissa is leading a Plastic Free Living Workshop at Namaste on Williams on Saturday, May 19 at 1:00pm. In this workshop, you'll learn simple steps you can take to reduce your use of plastic. 

Melissa appears regularly on the schedule at Namaste on Williams, Monday/Wednesday 7:30pm & Thursday 9:30am

 

 

 

Journey to wellness - Lauren B's story.

By Augusta Fishman, studio owner and Lauren Bielenberg, Portland, OR based yoga instructor.

For this month's NOW Blog post we sat down with Lauren Bielenberg to learn more about what yoga means to her, her journey to health and wellness and some other fun tidbits! 

AUGUSTA: Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up and how did you wind up in Portland?

I grew up in Santa Rosa, CA with my parents and older sister.  I did competitive gymnastics for about 10 years.  I moved to San Francisco in 2008 to finish my college degree in Liberal Studies. After graduating college, I went to cosmetology school and became a licensed hair stylist.  I worked in the hair industry for about 5 years before transitioning to personal training.  I was a personal trainer for about 2 years (up until my move to Portland) where I worked with clients one on one and taught a weekly bootcamp.  I became a certified yoga teacher July 2017.  

I came out to visit my close friends in October 2016 and absolutely fell in love with Portland.  I knew I was ready to move and be in a location that was surrounded by nature, a healing energy, a slower pace, and a place I could feel more grounded (and eventually get a dog!). I felt like my quality of life would be more supportive for what I wanted in my future.  I sold everything that didn’t fit in my car (I have a Toyota Corolla so not very big) and made the drive up at the end of July 2017!

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AUGUSTA: We all know yoga has "healing" powers...how has the practice helped you? 

With growing up doing competitive gymnastics, to then becoming a gym junkie (weight lifting, boxing, running, etc.) I found my active lifestyle slowly creeping into an addiction and coping mechanism for my stress and anxiety.  I spent countless hours at the gym and progressively started restricting more and more foods. In 2016, during my improper marathon training, I saw just how disconnected I was to my body.  I was ignoring my body’s signals up until I couldn’t anymore and had physical and emotional push back.  I made a visit to urgent care and the ER due to high pancreas and liver levels.  I went through months of testing trying to figure out what my body was trying to communicate to me. I learned that I was battling orthorexia (an eating disorder with the obsession of having a “healthy” diet and over exercise).  This lead to adrenal fatigue/hormone imbalance, malnourishment, years of amenorrhea with concerns of early osteoporosis, and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).  

It was not until I started working with an Ayurvedic practitioner in San Francisco, Kathy Gelhken, and immersed myself with practicing yoga (not just the physical practice) that I realized the importance of reconnecting to my body and intuition.  For the longest time I felt like my body was punishing me, when in actuality it was doing all that it could to keep me alive.  

Yoga has been beyond supportive for my personal growth.  There are many different aspects to the yoga practice and it is about finding that balance and aligning with what your body needs each and every day. Yoga has opened my heart and mind further to acceptance, compassion, patience, the combination of strength and softness, surrendering, and immense gratitude.

AUGUSTA: Tell us about the first time you practiced yoga.

I found yoga as a suggested form of movement for my recovery. It was a restorative class.  I remember the teacher’s presence and energy was inviting, warm, and supportive. I found my mind wandered and I struggled with relaxing. Yoga can be challenging!

AUGUSTA: What kept you coming back to your mat?

Everytime I left my mat I felt gratitude for the practice in its entirety. I experienced new challenges, learned about what I was holding on to, practiced letting go, and really felt my heart beat.  It’s amazing what we can learn about ourselves when we slow down and listen. It was and continues to be the journey- forever a student finding my way :)

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AUGUSTA: What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?

The wonderful mentors and community, and the transition, growth, and empowerment I have gone through (and continue to) physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Vulnerability.  To really feel connected to my body, to listen, to pause, to breathe, and the amount that I learned (and of course still learn).   

I aim to empower students to love all that their bodies do and are capable of doing with a beginner’s mind of curiosity and openness, while being surrounded by a supportive community.  I hope to impact people’s lives in a positive, encouraging, supportive, and light hearted way.    

AUGUSTA: What do you love most about teaching yoga?

I love helping people feel a part of a welcoming community, guiding a practice that feels challenging and empowering, and holding space for people to feel safe to explore free of judgement.  I love being a part of supporting human connections, learning about people (as I believe we all have a story), witnessing “aha” moments, and sharing good energy. Also, there is so much room for creativity!   

AUGUSTA:What are some of your favorite songs on your current yoga playlist?

Open by Rhye, Thin by Aquilo, Landscapes by Talos, Your Hand in Mine by Explosions in the Sky, Waterways by Ludovico Einaudi, Miracles (Someone Special) by Coldplay, and anything by Vance Joy and Odesza -  kind of a musical hodgepodge :)

AUGUSTA: We LOVE your Sculpt and Flow class! What's your favorite strength building move?

Recently my favorite has been using the block for strengthening the core: placing it between knee and elbow to engage core while extending the other arm and leg out and back in (many variations can be done with the block).

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AUGUSTA: Okay, shifting gears - Rapid Fire Q&A! 

  • Favorite yoga pose: Toppling Tree is my recent fav! I also really like Ardha Chandra Chapasana
  • Least Favorite yoga pose: Revolved triangle (gets me every time!)
  • Favorite local hangout: I am still exploring, but I love spots that I can sit outside with lights and/or a firepit
  • Favorite coffee shop: Townshend Tea
  • Favorite brunch spot: Sweedeedee
  • Favorite park: The fountain and roses at Peninsula Park
  • Favorite hiking spot: Angel’s Rest
  • Morning Person or Night Owl: Mornings are my jam!
  • Favorite season: This is my first time living in a location that has full season changes!  My first visit was in the Fall and I fell in love. With it also being my first time experiencing snow where I live, there is something so magical about the snowfall.
  • Favorite Snack: Eating Evolved Primal Chocolate: Signature Dark or blueberries and frozen cantaloupe … even better all together (another hodgepodge of sorts) :)
  • Favorite Drink: Lemon Ginger Tea

Lauren teaches Sculpt & Flow at Namaste on Williams on Monday mornings at 9:30 and Saturdays at 11:00. Check out her classes! Namaste on Williams offers New Students one full month of unlimited yoga for only $40! Check out our schedule here.

 

 

What’s ‘OM’ got to do with it?!

By Carly Manning, Freelance Writer, Portland OR

If you practice yoga regularly or even if you’ve only taken a couple classes, chances are you would have been invited to join your teacher in chanting ‘om’. Typically, this will be a chant repeated three times at the beginning or end of a class.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this might sometimes feel a little awkward in a room full of strangers, especially if you’re new to yoga. But although this ritual can feel a little strange, it’s an important part of the yoga practice and once you understand the meaning behind ‘om’ and why it is important, I’m sure you will be singing it from the rooftops in your next class.

So what does ‘om’ mean?

‘Om’ should technically be spelled ‘aum’ and is a mantra and sacred sound that is traditionally repeated at the beginning and end of a yoga practice.

It is a Sanskrit word that translates to ‘source’ or ‘supreme.’ In Hinduism it is said to be the sound of the universe, so by chanting it we are symbolically and physically recognising our connection to all other living creatures and the universe.

Even though it sounds like one sound, ‘Aum’ is actually made up of four syllables: A, U, M, and a silent syllable.

The first syllable is A and it is pronounced as a long "ahhhh" which starts as the back of your throat.

The U, sounds like a prolonged “oooooh”, and here you should start to feel your throat vibrate.

The third syllable is M, “mmmm” which sounds like a lot like the noise you would make if you were drooling over a really good-looking slice of pizza. You will now feel your mouth and lips vibrating.

The final syllable comes as you merge your chant from ‘mmm’ into deep silence. You should feel a powerful energy that fills the room for a few seconds after the chant ends.

 Photo by  Erica Kait  

Photo by Erica Kait 

And why do we chant it?

One of the most amazing things about ‘om’ is that it’s actually the sound vibration of the word that is most important. As you chant ‘om’ you should feel the small vibrations ripple through your entire body.

Not only do these vibrations feel great, they also have a very positive affect on the body by slowing down the nervous system and calming the mind in a way similar to meditation. And of course, when your mind is relaxed, your blood pressure decreases, your heart is happy and your overall health ultimately improves.

It is also a great way to separate our practice from the rest of our day, signifying that this time we dedicate to yoga is a special time where we take care of ourselves and practice being mindful. Beginning and/or ending your practice chanting ‘om’ may also help foster a deeper connection than simply just physical yoga poses. 

 Photo by  Erica Kait  

Photo by Erica Kait 

Are you convinced yet?

If you ask me, the benefits of repeating this tiny little word far outweigh those few seconds of awkwardness you may feel, and honestly like most things the more you do it the easier it becomes. There’s a good chance you may even start to enjoy yourself, so the next time your teacher begins the class with ‘om’, give it a go and join in the chanting loud and proud. Your body will thank you for it!

Namaste on Williams offers a new student special of 30 days of unlimited yoga for $40 AND also has an unlimited yoga membership for only $65 (limited time offer). You can check out our class schedule at www.namasteonwilliams.com/schedule.

Common Myths About Yoga

By Carly Manning, Freelance Writer, Portland, OR

Over the last few decades the popularity of yoga in the western world has increased at a rapid rate with yoga studios popping up almost everywhere you look. In 2016 there were over 26 million people reportedly practicing yoga in the USA alone, which is no surprise given the many amazing physical and mental health benefits that come with a regular yoga practice. But despite its popularity, there are still plenty of myths and misconceptions about yoga floating around out there. So, before you think you’ve made up your mind about yoga, let’s start busting open a few of those myths!

Myth #1: You have to be a human pretzel to do yoga

If only we had a dollar for every time we’ve heard someone say, “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough”. Of course, flexibility is a part of yoga but it’s about so much more than just that. Yoga is about observation, self-awareness and learning how to be present. Yoga is accessible to people of all fitness and flexibility levels. Even after just a few classes you will begin to feel the positive benefits of yoga - your body will begin to feel more supple and the mental chatter will start to quieten. And hey, if you’re worried about your flexibility then yoga is a fantastic place to start working on that. Your teacher can help you modify poses so you can watch your flexibility improve with time and regular practice.

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Myth #2: Men don’t do yoga

This one could not be further from the truth. While yoga in the Western world tends to draw a large female following, yoga was actually started and practiced almost exclusively by men. Not only do we get some pretty amazing male yogis in our studio but some pretty successful men like Le Bron James, Robert Downey Jr, Alec Baldwin, David Beckham, Ryan Gosling and Tom Hanks credit a regular yoga practice to helping them keep in great health both mentally and physically. So, come on guys, give it a go!

Myth #3: You have to be thin and fit to do yoga

Absolutely not! Yogi’s come in all shapes and sizes, and a yoga class is a place free from judgement. Everyone is there to better themselves both physically and mentally. There are many different types of yoga from the gentler yin and restorative styles, to the high energy vinyasa practice, so almost everyone can find a style which suits them and their body. Through yoga we also learn about self-acceptance, and this is something that all us regardless of body type, age, race, religion, or sexuality can benefit from.

 Photo by Erika Kait 

Photo by Erika Kait 

Myth #4: Yoga isn’t a real workout

Anyone who thinks this has obviously never taken a vigorous, high intensity power yoga class. While it’s true that yoga will probably not get your heart pumping as much as a cardiovascular activity like running or a spin class would, that certainly doesn’t make it easy or an illegitimate form of exercise. Yoga requires a combination of strength, balance and flexibility – three key elements of any form of exercise. And if you needed any further convincing, the health benefits of yoga are undeniable and research shows that a regular yoga practice lowers your risk for heart disease and hypertension.

Myth #5: People with injuries or chronic pain can’t do yoga

 Photo by  Erica Kait

Photo by Erica Kait

Completely false! This is actually one of the biggest reasons to practice yoga. Yoga can help heal and strengthen your body, and even manage pain relief. In fact, many people use yoga as a way to reduce pain related diseases like arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines and lower back pain. Always remember to speak to your teacher before class about any injuries you have or areas of sensitivity so they can give you modifications and check in with you during class.

Myth #6: Yoga is only for hippies and spiritual people

Yoga is for everyone, and practicing yoga certainly doesn’t mean you need to start buying crystals or becoming a vegan. You will find people from all walks of life in a yoga class. Yogi’s all have their own life experience, and everyone’s intention and reason for doing yoga will be different, with none better or more important than another. While some people who practice yoga do embrace a more spiritual lifestyle, everyone is free to take the parts of yoga that work for them and leave those that don’t.

The list of myths could go on and on really, so why not try a yoga class and bust some of those myths yourself.

Namaste on Williams offers a new student special of 30 days of unlimited yoga for $40 AND also has an unlimited yoga membership for only $65 (limited time offer). You can check out our class schedule at www.namasteonwilliams.com/schedule

Yoga, Life & Finding the Flow: An Interview with Katie Cosgrove

For this month’s blog post we got cozy with the lovely Katie Cosgrove to learn more about her yoga journey, what inspires her and how she finds the balance with this busy life and being a new mom. Scroll down below to get the scoop on one of our very favorites… Katie!

 Photo by  Erica Kait  

Photo by Erica Kait 

By Augusta Fishman, Founder of Namaste on Williams and Katie Cosgrove, Portland OR based yoga instructor. 

AUGUSTA: Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up and how did you wind up in Portland?

Katie: I was born in Portland but actually grew up in Vancouver (don’t tell anyone, haha). After high school I went to University of Hawaii then moved to DC for my first job as a first grade teacher. After my first year of teaching I went to India to study yoga and realized I wanted to dedicate myself fully to studying and teaching yoga. I ended up in Australia for four years after India doing some more studying and teaching. From Sydney I moved to San Francisco where I studied and taught for two years before I finally moved back to Portland. Phew! I live here now with my partner, Mathew, and our 1 year old daughter, Ellie. So happy to be back home!

AUGUSTA: How has becoming a mother changed or shifted your teaching?

Katie: I had a very uncomfortable pregnancy that limited my mobility quite a bit. I suffered from intense morning sickness, fatigue and SI Joint pain. Before that, I had never felt limited in my body so going through that experience really taught me a lot about how yoga can sometimes feel inaccessible. It helped me approach teaching to all different kinds of bodies with a new awareness.

AUGUSTA: How do you find the balance with it all… mothering, adulting, teaching, etc.?

Katie: I don’t! Haha I feel like I’m always behind. Yoga is what helps me feel balanced and energized even though I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in almost two years. Oh and coffee! ALL THE COFFEE.

 Photo by  Erica Kait  

Photo by Erica Kait 

AUGUSTA: What has it been like coming back to your practice and your body after having your daughter?

Katie: At first it was difficult. My body felt like I had run a marathon and then somebody beat me up after! Lol No, but seriously... I started by just doing simple movements like cat/cow, gentle stretches and some pelvic floor strengtheners  until I felt like I had the energy and strength to go to a vinyasa class. I think the first class I took was a few months after Ellie was born. It’s been a slow process regaining the strength I had before which has been frustrating and humbling but I’m happy and grateful that I have this fully functioning body that was able to create another human life and continue moving after!

AUGUSTA: Tell us about the first time you practiced yoga.

Katie: My first yoga class was during my Freshman year of college. I have never been a very athletically inclined person but I wanted to do something active and I fell in love with yoga! I loved the non competitive nature and meditative movement. I was hooked right away!

AUGUSTA: What kept you coming back to your mat?

Katie: I realized how good I felt after every class and wanted to experience that as often as possible!

AUGUSTA: What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?

Katie: I mentioned before that I was a first grade teacher for a year after college. I have so much respect for school teachers because that is the hardest most underpaid job there is! I was not cut out for it and during that whole year I felt like my job was taking away from my time studying yoga. While I was working on my teaching certificate in India I realized that life is too short to waste time doing something you’re not passionate about. I wanted to focus all my energy on yoga, so I never returned to my school teaching gig.

AUGUSTA: What do you love most about teaching yoga?

Katie: I feel so inspired after every class I teach because of the students and the practice. I love that the people who show up to class are there because they want to learn more about this practice that I love so much! It’s my favorite thing to talk about and they are open to listening! That is amazing! I feel so grateful for the students because without them I wouldn’t be able to do this!

AUGUSTA: You always have the best playlists.. What are some of your favorite songs on your current yoga playlist?

Katie: Smoke it if you got one by Blended Babies and Easily by Bruno Major

AUGUSTA: Alright Katie, lets wrap this up with some rapid fire round of Q&A:

  • Favorite yoga pose: Skandasana
  • Least Favorite yoga pose: Urdva Dhanurasana
  • Favorite local hangout: Posies
  • Favorite coffee shop: Two Stroke
  • Favorite brunch spot: Tin Shed
  • Favorite park: Columbia Park
  • Favorite hiking spot: Angels rest
  • Morning Person or Night Owl: Mornings even though I’m a little grumpy sometimes
  • Favorite season:  summer
  • Favorite Snack: Lara bar
  • Favorite Drink: Matcha latte

 

 

Katie Cosgrove teaches at Namaste on Williams on Tuesday mornings at 9:30 (beginning in January) and on Saturday mornings at 9:30 as well as at other yoga studios around town. Stay current on her schedule and private offerings at www.mindfulyogini.com

 

 

 

Elevate Yourself: An Interview with Jill Knouse

In this month’s NOW Blog post we sat down with the lovely Jill Knouse to learn more about her yoga journey, what inspires her and her very own Elevate Yoga Teacher Training program. Scroll down below to learn more about one of our favorite teachers, Jill Knouse!

Jill Knouse headshot.jpeg

By Augusta Fishman, Founder of Namaste on Williams and Jill Knouse , Portland, OR based Yoga Instructor

Augusta: Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up and how did you wind up in Portland?

Jill: I spent most of my childhood in coastal towns of California.  My family was clearly NOT afraid of change, so we moved a LOT.  I’ve lived in San Diego, Hermosa Beach, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, Saratoga, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and then 13 years ago, I moved to Portland.  

I ended up in Portland after living in the Bay Area for a long time.  In San Francisco I was, in many ways, following someone else’s professional dreams and living a life that began to seriously deplete me.  I was working way too much in a job that I may have loved in the beginning, but I later came to realize how much I actually loathed it!  The life I had built for myself left me unhealthy in mind, body and soul.  There was a growing feeling inside of me  that if I didn’t make a change in my life, I would somehow disintegrate.  

One of my best childhood friends moved to Portland from San Francisco and I visited her on a regular basis.  Every time the wheels touched down here, I exhaled so deeply.  It was always such a welcomed relief to arrive.  I fell in love with the vibe, the people, the comparative simplicity and space I felt here...and, the cost of living at that time was dramatically less than in The Bay Area.   After visiting many times over several years, I decided to buy a little bungalow and say goodbye to that life in SF.  Best.  Decision.  Ever.

I assumed I’d relocate and find work in the same industry since it was what I knew but The Universe had other plans for me.  Thankyouverymuch!

Augusta: Tell us about the first time you practiced yoga.

Jill: I’d dabbled in yoga while living in the Bay Area, but the practice really seeped into my soul when I met and began practicing with Jeanette D’Antonio in 2005.  She had me focusing on the breath and bringing down my obviously HIGH anxiety before really diving into asana.  Jeanette helped me unravel 13+ years of stress that was the result of going against the grain of my being for WAY TOO LONG!  I was pretty wound up.  She also introduced me to Ana Forrest who was teaching a workshop at CorePower Yoga. It was there that I met so many lovely teachers, made incredible friends, was encouraged to do my first teacher training and I taught there for about 7 years.

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Augusta: What kept you coming back to your mat?

Jill: Really, it was a deep knowing that things could look and feel differently than they did.  I had hope.  I wanted a deeper connection to who I really was, I craved balance, greater harmony and I felt all of these things whenever I was in the practice of breath, mindfulness, asana.  I remember acknowledging that it was changing everything one simple inhale and one simple exhale at a time.  I’d leave sessions feeling euphoric and charged with even more hope.  

Augusta: What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?

Jill: I couldn’t dream of anything better than sharing what I was being given.  These tools.  It was immediately so clear to me.  I just couldn’t NOT do it.

Augusta: Tell us about Elevate Yoga. How was it born and what’s It all about?

Jill: Elevate was originally born from something I wished I’d had as a newer yoga teacher.  About six years into teaching, I found myself having regular conversations with other teachers sharing how vulnerable and aimless we felt just after graduation!  For me personally, I had NOT immediately gotten the internship I wanted (I was embarrassed and sad about THAT!)…I wanted so badly to have a place to go to continue learning, teaching, sharing.  I could see the value of having a place to go, a place to share that felt like neutral ground — not your "bosses place" but your PEERS’ place.  I began to visualize a safe haven where new teachers could go to connect with other teachers, to refine their skills, to have relevant conversation, to access to cutting edge ideas and be taught by other passionate, heart-felt teachers.  I visualized a non-dogmatic, creative space and then I decided to bring that vision to life.  The first Elevate launched in late 2012/early 2013.  

  Elevate 2015 Graduates

Elevate 2015 Graduates

Initially, the training was geared toward existing yoga teachers as a next step.  After running the program in that format for a couple of years, interested yogis continued to ask the same question of me, “What if you’re not already a certified yoga instructor?”  So in 2015, we gave life to our 200-Hour Teacher Training program, available to those wishing to deepen their yoga practice, as well as, aspiring yoga teachers.  It has all of the same core tenets: a safe place to learn, share and connect, a place to develop teaching and life skills, a place to have relevant conversation, access to cutting edge ideas and a place to learn from other passionate, experienced, heart-felt teachers.  I bring in experts from Portland and around the country to present and share their knowledge + experience.  

  Elevate 2015 Graduates

Elevate 2015 Graduates

Elevate 200-Hour YTT is a place where we dive deeply into the core of this practice: History, Philosophy, Anatomy, The Art of Teaching, The Business of Yoga (which my husband, Michael Knouse -who is an incredible business coach! - joins us for!), The Subtle Body, Sequencing, The Art of Intuitive Assisting…we don’t leave any stones unturned!  Elevate is a place to practice life, a place to practice yoga, a place to remember who you are so that you KNOW where you teach from.  It is imperative to us that you teach from a place that is true, authentic, from the depths of you, and in-service.

Augusta: What do you love most about teaching yoga?

Jill: Every.  Single.  Thing.  Honestly, BECAUSE it's not easy for me.  Teaching inspires me.  It challenges me.  It enlightens me.  It scares me.  It connects me with truth.  It connects me with others in a unique and powerful way.  It reminds me of my imperfections and how to be better about embracing them.  It reminds me of the importance of having FUN, not taking myself too seriously and also how “the same” we are even in our perceived differences.  Teaching encourages me to remember the importance of all the things: strength, flexibility, going with the flow, sequencing, balancing, surrendering and alignment. And, I’m not talking about the postures or a flow class here rather in every aspect of how I move through my life.  How do I use these tools to travel more harmoniously?

Augusta: Shifting gears a bit.. What are some of your favorite songs on your current yoga playlist?

Jill: I love music!  Lots of different genres and artists.  Right now these are on my playlist and I’m lovin’ them but my playlist is changing all the time!  

  • Spirit Bird, Xavier Rudd
  • River, Leon Bridges
  • Anything by Michael Kiwanuka

Augusta: Alright Jill, let’s wrap this up with a rapid fire Q&A:

  • Favorite local hangout: Anywhere we can go with our pup, Addie. Grant Park and Forest Park are a couple favorites
  • Favorite coffee shop: St Simon
  • Favorite brunch spot: Tasty and Alder (though we don’t often go out for brunch!)
  • Favorite park: Thousand Acres - more dog time!
  • Favorite hiking spot: Far end of Wildwood
  • Morning Person or Night Owl: Morning person
  • Favorite season: Fall  
  • Favorite Snack: Chips & salsa
  • Favorite Drink: Can I say wine? Heh.  Maybe Chai or kombucha is more appropriate. Haha   

Augusta: How about Kombucha and then wine… lol.  Thanks so much for your time! It was so fun learning more about you. We are blessed to have you in our yoga community/family/kula/crew!

Jill Knouse teaches at Namaste on Williams on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6:00pm. She also teaches at other places around town and offers private and group yoga sessions. Stay current with her schedule, private offerings, retreats, and Elevate Yoga Teacher Training at www.jillknouseyoga.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yin Yoga for Transformation

By Sarasvati Hewitt

It sounds simple - the things you do the most shape the body and the things you think the most shape the brain. But it's not always so simple and this is where the practice of Yin Yoga comes in. 

A Yin practice an effective vehicle for transformation because it requires self awareness and a willingness to delve deep into the patterns of the body, brain, fascia, and thought patterns.  

So what is Yin Yoga? Generally speaking, Yin Yoga is a meditative approach with a physical focus on the connective tissues and fascia in the hips, pelvis and spine. In a Yin practice poses are held longer (minimum of 3-5 minutes) than a yang practice. Yin is unique in that students are asked to soften and relax in the shapes.

The practice of Yin Yoga can be considered a type of cognitive therapy that enables us to become more aware of our thought patterns and routine body preferences. Physically, a Yin practice works to create more space in the hips, pelvis and spine and prepares the body to physically sit comfortably in a seated meditation. The hidden gem of Yin when practiced consistently is the shift from the physical to a deeper state of contentment through meditation.  

 Photography by Erica Kait Creative 

Photography by Erica Kait Creative 

Recent research has shown profound connections between more traditional/ancient forms of yoga and its effect on the nervous system. In a Yin practice, I use a triangular approach to illuminate and heal: 

  1. Mental health

  2. Sleep difficulties

  3. Gut/Digestive issues

When one of these is off, the others are off. When we heal one, the others heal. It is all connected.  So much of what I  focus on as a teacher is to use Yin as a means to stabilize these three things. I like the mantra: We use the body to heal the body.

You can transform your physical, emotional and mental well being with yoga and a Yin practice can provide the tools to deepen this transformation.  

 Photography by  Erica Kait Creative  

Photography by Erica Kait Creative 

I teach Yin Thursday evenings at 7:30pm at Namaste on Williams as well as at other yoga studios around Portland, OR. Also, check out my Podcast Beautiful Genius for more on yoga, neuroscience, and psychology.

About Sarasvati

Sarasvati Hewitt grew up as a dancer and began studying anatomy at 16. She has been teaching yoga for 13 years and has studied Interpersonal Neurobiology at Portland State University. She teaches workshops and specializes in Yin yoga for anxiety, depression, eating disorders, insomnia, addiction and trauma. She has a podcast called Beautiful Genius about yoga, neuroscience and psychology.

sarasvatihewitt.com